“Out of the Depths”

Psalm 130

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice.”  Because today’s psalm begins with those words, we know, from the start, that the one who wrote the psalm was going through some sort of sorrow or pain, fear or despair.

What we, at first, do not know is from which kind of depth the psalmist was calling out for help.  After all, there are many different depths through which one can go in this life.  Was the psalmist down in the depth of exhaustion or depression?  Bitterness or resentment?  Fear or despair?  Was it physical pain, or some great upheaval of the soul?

At first, we do not know.  But, then, once we get to verse three, we begin to see what the nature of the psalmist’ depth might be, when the psalmist says, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand?”, an indication that the depth from which the psalmist cried was the complex, complicated grief of guilt; a sadness in which so many of us spend so much of our lives.

Which is why it is so important for all of us to hear, again, what the psalmist said, when the psalmist said, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand?  But, there is forgiveness with you”; a powerful reminder that, while it is always important for us to face our guilt, and truthfully own it, it is also always important for us to know, in our depths, what the psalmist knew in his, which is that, even the deepest of our failures is no match for the depth of God’s redeeming love.

Which is why we are always careful to say that, while no one ever gets to start over from the beginning, everyone always gets to start over from here, because we, at our worst, are no match for God at God’s best.